Friday, August 12, 2016

Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen, 2016

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on Goodreads 
It seemed like a normal school day, until a horrible storm forced the very cautious school administration to make everyone hole up in a safe place. Six students find themselves stuck in a tiny, questionably smelly space—a school bathroom—with a stuffed cat for entertainment. Hijinks ensue and the unexpected happens. They enter as strangers…and leave as friends.
A special script accompanies the novel, so any six kids can get together with their friends and perform the story anywhere they’d like.

(144 pages)

Okay, this was not exactly what I was expecting.

It's a really short book - really more of a novella than a novel, really. The story was over just as I thought it was getting really interesting, and I suppose I'm so used to meaningful stories taking place over time that I have trouble taking the entire episode in the bathroom as nothing more than exactly that: just a short episode.

It's actually even shorter than the 144 pages the volume as a whole is, because the entire story is re-written in play form. And no, I don't mean that the book is continued in play form or that new meaning is given to the tale as the play casts different light on characters or inflection. I mean that it is literally transcribed into the format of a play, so that people can perform it if the urge strikes. That means the prose story itself is just 76 pages.

I feel like this was supposed to be meaningful, but it really just came across as bizarre more than anything else. It would have made a really interesting middle grade novel, with more fleshed-out characters and room for them to really grow, but in the short format of a novella everything felt really random and kind of rushed.

I don't know, though, maybe I'm just too thick and am missing the point. If you've read Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat and you got more out of it than I did, please enlighten me in the comments section.

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